“I never hated sports, but I hated how I was treated by kids and adults who played sports.” That’s how one young LGBTQ person responded to the Trevor Project’s 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health when asked to describe their attitude toward athletics in school. “The locker room was always a nightmare, the athletic kids at my school hated me, the coaches at my school hated me, and as much as I didn’t care for a lot of mainstream sports in general, I avoided athletic activities out of terror, not disinterest.”
That response is just one selection from the new data released Wednesday by the organization, as it sifts through its 2021 survey of more than 35,000 LGBTQ youth. The Trevor Project is the nation’s leading nonprofit providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention resources to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, nonbinary, queer, and questioning youth. And its focus this time is on LGBTQ young people’s experiences and attitudes about participating in sports.
Among the findings published Wednesday:
- Fewer than one-third of LGBTQ youth—only 32%—reported that they had ever participated in sports for a school or community league or club; More than two-thirds, or 68%, reported they never once took part in any school or community sports.
- Sports helped a number of respondents improve their mental health. According to a trans student who participated in the survey, playing sports “help me cope with gender dysphoria and depression.” Another said, “I find that sports are a good way to distract me from negative thoughts.”
- Among those who did participate in sports, 18% reported they heard a sports leader or coach say negative things about people who are LGBTQ, and 16% reported that they had heard positive things about LGBTQ people from a sports leader or coach.
- Only 4% of out LGBTQ student-athletes reported feeling comfortable turning to a sports leader or coach for help when they were feeling sad, stressed, or depressed.
Read more at Forbes.com.